Today we bring you a delicious risotto recipe, with a different and delicate taste. We mixed it up making a sort of Italian-Spanish fusion, with italian rice and apples with the typical Spanish Sidra de Asturias.
The Apple is an extraordinary fruit whose origins are to be find in Central Asia in the Neolithic era. There are more than 7,000 known varieties of apples, and the apples literally followed Mankind while conquering the World. One could say that the apple is the Men's best friend.
Unluckily, of this endless variety we can find in our grocery store only seven-eight kinds of apples, that covers more than 90% of the whole market. That's a pity for instance that one of our favourite kinds of apple, the Melannurca, known in Italy as the queen of apples, sweet and tasty, is impossible to find elsewhere.
Since ancient times, the apples were used to obtain delicious drinks, even alcoholic ones. The cider, nowadays, is a ligthly alcoholic drinks whose alcoholic volume range from 3% to 8%, until 12% in some case. The production of apple drinks is known for instance in the ancient Egypt, in ancient Greece and Rome. The cider is very popular in the European Atlantic coast, in countries like Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, England and Ireland.
The english name cider and the spanish name "Sidra" derivates from the latin word Sicera, that comes from the Hebrew word "Shekar", or "drink that makes you feel dizzy". Already in the high middle ages, the sidra was very popular in all the Cantabrian Mountains, and we have some information about the cultivations of apples there already in the VIII century, during the Asturian Kingdoms. During the Carolingian empire, under Charlemagne, in the IX century, we can find the very first mention of the production of what we intend as cider in commercial documents.
Taking a huge leap forward, in the XIX century, spanish regions of Asturias and Guipuzcoa-Basque Country becomes the propulsory center of the spanish sidra. In the region of Asturias, the consumption of sidra reach the 54 liter per capita per year. An astonishing volume and probably a Guinness World record!
Today the Sidra de Asturias is the most important traditional drink of that spanish region, and it is widely used in the whole Spain to celebrate events like bithdays, Christmas and New Year's Eve.
The 12 of November 2002, the Sidra de Asturias has become a D.O.P. protected label (denominación de origen protegida). Today the production of the sidra is also a touristical appeal for Asturias, for instance there is a county called the "Mancomunidad de la sidra" (the county of the sidra) that offers to the visitor many activities related to this delicious sparkling drink.
With the apples you can literally do anything you want: desserts, drinks, purees, creams, ice creams and, even if we associate the apples with sweet dishes more than with savoury ones, there's a quite a list of main courses using apple too, like the dish that we'll show you today!
- Carnaroli or Arborio rice
- 1 liter of vegetables stock
- 1 onion
- 1 or 2 apples (to taste)
- 1 spoon of butter
- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 1 (abundant) glass of Sidra de Asturias
- 2 spoonful of extra virgin olive oil
- a pinch of salt
The preparation for our risotto is just like any other risotto, for instance you can see the steps to follow looking at our "Saffron risotto" recipe, but in this case remember to use the Sidra de Asturias instead of the white wine.
1- Put the pan on medium-high heat, drizzle a little bit of olive oil and put inside the pan the diced onions (à là brunoise), and let it cook for some seconds. Then add the rice and let it toast for a little bit. This step, as we said in other occasions, is very crucial to obtain a good risotto. And here goes the change with the traditional risotto recipe: at this point you would add the wine, but in this recipe you'll add the Sidra de Asturias. Stir it until the liquid has completely evaporated.
Note: We already explained how to calculate the quantity of rice to add into the pan in a traditional way, but we'll repeat here just in case you've missed it.
I've learned to cook risotto from the mothers and the grandmas, and they used to tell me to use "un pugnetto per ognuno e uno in più per la padella", that is a fistful of rice for each one and one extra for the pan. Clearly it depends also on the size of the hands, in my case it would be two fistful for each one, since I've got very small hands hehehe! This is a very efficent way to calculate the quantities needed, but we also love to cook a little bit more of rice in order to have an extra portion to prepare later our beloved supplìs, crocchès and so on...you can do great things with you risotto leftovers!
2- Now little by little we'll add our hot vegetable stock to the pan and we'll keep stirring the rice, in order to help the risotto to release the starch and so obtain the typical creamy texture. We'll add a little bit of stock at time and we'll keep on stirring until we see the liquid totally absorbed. We'll continue doing so for about 18 minutes, and we'll add the chopped apples halfway through the cooking.
3- When our risotto is realy (after about 18 minutes) we turn off the heat and we'll add a spoonful of butter and the grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and we stir energetically. This step is known as "mantecatura" in italian. And there you have it!
Serve it freshly cooked.